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Crew prepare to face Revolution without Gaven

Columbus Crew manager Robert Warzycha admitted the club missed injured Eddie Gaven in their last game, a loss to the Colorado Rapids last Friday.

"We did not have too much quality in the midfield," Warzycha said following a a 2-0 road loss. "We would have had more quality but Eddie was missing."

Gaven started the fixture against Colorado, but left after just seven minutes with a lower leg contusion.

"Eddie's one of those guys who can change a game and obviously you don't want to lose him early," Crew fullback Josh Gardner said.

It's even worse to not have him at all.

Columbus (9-7-7) hosts the New England Revolution on Saturday at Crew Stadium, but Gaven is expected to miss the Major League match as he recovers from the injury. He has started the first 23 games of the season.

"I don't expect him to play on Saturday, to be honest, as sore as he is," said Warzycha. "He's got a big bruise.

"It's an important game for us, but for me it's important he is healthy."

Gaven had scored in back-to-back matches for the Crew, who still sit atop the Eastern Conference despite the loss. The Philadelphia Union are just one point back, while Red Bull New York is four points off the pace.

With its two-match win streak over, Columbus can focus on playoff positioning and remaining atop the division as the top six teams in the East are separated by just seven points.

Despite the loss of Gaven, Warzycha could welcome back Dilly Duka following an extended absence, but "it's like preseason all over again," Duka said. "You don't sit out two months and come back in. It's going to take time."

Even with the concerns, the Crew can be confident with the fact they are 6-1-4 at home and the Revolution have just one win on the road.

New England (4-10-9) was unbeaten in three consecutive games before a 3-2 loss to Chivas USA last week, and is just 1-6-5 on the road this season.

"I'll always defend the players, but occasionally when your defense gives up goals like that, there's no hiding place," New England coach Steve Nicol said. "The goals were atrocious.

"And really, defensively, we let down the rest of the team tonight. We made some great chances - fantastic chances when you think about when we should've scored - and we've lost again."

New England did discover some positives from the defeat, as 16-year-old Diego Fagundez won a penalty and later scored his first goal and designated player Milton Caraglio made his debut.

Nicol expects Caraglio to make a significant impact once he's settled in with the team.

"Once we can get him up to speed - hopefully that will be sooner, rather than later - then you'll see a lot more from him. He can hold the ball up and bring people in. He's shown that he can score goals, as well," Nicol said.

"So that's the combination we're looking for from him."

This week, Nicol is just looking for a result on the road - even a draw - and his club has done well at Columbus recently, winning 1-0 in both 2008 and '09, and a win this week could actually put New England in the playoff picture.

Despite having just four wins, New England is just nine points behind New York for third place in the East, which would guarantee a postseason berth.